New York & Virginia S.S. Co. v. Calderwood,
60 U.S. 241 (1856)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York & Virginia S.S. Co. v. Calderwood, 60 U.S. 19 How. 241 241 (1856)

New York & Virginia Steamship Company v. Calderwood

60 U.S. (19 How.) 241


Neither rain, nor the darkness of the night, nor the absence of a light from a barge or sailing vessel, nor the fact that the steamer was well manned and furnished, and conducted with caution will excuse a steamer for coming in collision with a barge or sailing vessel where the barge or sailing vessel is at anchor or sailing in a thoroughfare, but out of the usual track of the steam vessel.

Therefore, where a collision took place between a steamer and a sailing vessel, the latter being out of the ship channel and near an edge of shoals, the steamer must be responsible.

The sailing vessel had no pilot, and did not exhibit an efficient light. Although these circumstances did not exonerate the steamer, yet they make it necessary for this Court to say that an obligation rests upon all vessels found in the avenues of commerce to employ active diligence to avoid collisions, and that no inference can be drawn from the fact that a vessel is not condemned for an omission of certain precautionary measures in one case that another vessel will be excused under other circumstances for omissions of the same description.

Page 60 U. S. 242

This was a libel filed by Calderwood and the other owners of a schooner called the Sprightling Sea against the steamship Roanoke, her tackle &c., in a case of collision at the place and under the circumstances stated in the opinion of the Court.

In July, 1853, the district judge decreed that the libellants should recover against the steamship the damages occasioned by the collision, and referred the case to a commissioner to ascertain the amount.

In September, 1854, the commissioner reported that there was due to the libellants,

For the value of the vessel at the time of the

collision, after deducting the amount for which

the vessel sold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4,442.00

Amount added to the value above by court . . . 200.00

The value of the freight . . . . . . . . . . . 162.00

Interest on the above amounts, from

Oct. 17, 1852 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 672.56



This report was confirmed by the district court, and upon appeal the decree was affirmed by the circuit court, an appeal from which brought the case here.

Page 60 U. S. 245

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